I’ve heard it said that to plant a tree is a sign of faith and hope for the future, an act of love for generations yet to come. The person who puts the seed in the ground is not the one who will rest in the shade beneath the leafy boughs, who will climb the trunk and sit on the sturdy branches, enjoy the bounty of fruit, or simply to sit and enjoy the beauty of it.
I recently visited a small town that is deeply involved in a project with a similar philosophy. They are building a carousel, an old-fashioned, handcarved, handpainted merry-go-round for the delight of children not yet born. Nearly all of the work is being done by volunteers. It is funded 100% by donations. When complete, it will be installed in a city park for all to enjoy. 24 animals are finished out of a planned total of 62. The mechanism is complete and operational for the carousel. The work is inspiring, painstakingly careful, and fabulous.
Each carousel animal is “adopted” or sponsored by an individual in the community, who is able to select the animal to be sculpted and approve the design. Most were horses–some were favorite pets memorialized, some were symbols of wonderful vacations in the past: a giraffe commemorated a safari vacation for one couple.
Each one was lovingly crafted, completely unique, and beautiful to behold in every detail.
A master sculptor/woodcarver was in charge, making the drawings to scale, giving basic instruction to the volunteer. The volunteers start with a small decorative flower, move next to a decorative pineapple, and when ready, on to larger challenges. We met a retired veterinarian learning to paint a flower, an elderly woman painting spots on a leopard’s face, and a logger and his wife carving a quail figure while being supervised by their Shih Tzu dog. A developmentally delayed woman sanded a horse’s leg with care and diligence, and an IT systems manager carved the body of a Clydesdale horse. Docents eagerly explained each phase, the history, the story behind each figure. Every volunteer was eager to share their experience and enthusiasm.
It takes a team about 2 1/2 to 3 years to complete an animal. Many will never see the carousel complete, but their faces shine with faith and hope in the giving of themselves. Their creativity and generosity are a small reflection of our Creator, making things to delight both themselves and those still to come.
As the carousel project moves forward day by day, the volunteers come to build friendships as well as sculptures, to allow imaginations to soar, and to create a gift of love and hope for all. What a blessing this project is for the entire town.